Maternity leave should be a happy, joyous time with worries limited to the realms of nappies, sleep deprivation and bottle labelling.
You’ve just created a new life, what else could there possibly be to think about?
Yet while you’re in the newborn bubble, the world outside keeps on turning.
Life goes on, which means bills keep on coming in and, like your baby’s need to be fed, they can’t be ignored.
As with most life events, a budget for your maternity leave will go a long way to reducing stress, anxiety, and last-minute panics.
You wouldn’t take two months off work to travel the world without considering and planning for the costs, would you? Maternity leave is no different.
Your income will change considerably, and most likely your outgoings, too. Whatever household budget you were using previously, it’s safe to say that’s out the window.
Things just got a whole lot more complicated.
You’ve got new expenses – nappies, clothes, baby food, new products and toiletries you didn’t know existed before, more baby clothes (they grow fast!), more nappies – and your lifestyle is probably dramatically different.
Whilst you might be spending less on going out you're certainly spending more on soft-plays then ever before! If you’re a first-time parent there are going to be unexpected expenses, things you hadn’t considered, so a contingency fund is a good thing to build into your budget.
The word ‘budget’ can spark fear in the hearts of many, but the key is not to see it as a limitation but an enabler.
This time is precious, and you’ll have enough to think about without worrying you’re going to run out of money. A maternity leave budget, whether that’s a completely separate budget, money earmarked specifically for this time, or an adjusted version of your usual household budget, is there to help make things easier.
Once you’ve estimated your expenses, you need to consider what your income will look like whilst on maternity leave and whether or not that will cover your new level of outgoings.
What benefits are you entitled to, and how long will you be paid for? If your income will be lower for a period of time, how long will that be, and what is the total deficit? Will you be able to absorb that, or should you be thinking about saving up a pot of money ahead of time, to supplement your income while on leave?
If you establish your likely shortfall, based on how much maternity leave you intend to take, then you could set aside a weekly or monthly amount (depending on how far in advance you are planning) and earmark it to cover either a specific expense (e.g. a buggy, or cot), or to pay yourself as extra income while on leave.
There will be a whole lot to adjust to with a new baby on the horizon, make life a little easier for yourself by planning your maternity leave budget in advance.
Money worries can be a huge source of stress and anxiety, and not something you want to experience at this most wonderful but demanding of times.
To help you plan your maternity leave budget we’ve put together a handy (and free) Excel budget template – with estimated expenses, adjusted income and where it’s coming from, to help you spot any shortfall ahead of time and work out if and how much you need to save to ensure your maternity leave is as enjoyable as it should be.